Intergroup Dialogue

IGD Photo 1Intergroup Dialogue is a constitutive element of the university’s effort to advance leadership development under the administrative charge of the UNF Taylor Leadership Institute.  As it was initially developed at the University of Michigan some years ago, Intergroup Dialogue has been applied to conflicts around topics of race and ethnic nationality, sexual orientation, religion, and culture. Themes within the Intergroup Dialogue process have historically included social identity development, prejudice and stereotyping and their effects on groups, the dynamics of difference and power and their impact on the nature of social oppression and/or the positive advancement of equity, civility, and justice in the world, and the development of basic group facilitation skills and their applications in multicultural settings.

 

While incorporating all those dimensions in its application at UNF, Intergroup Dialogue goes a step further as it is designed to advance thoughtful global leaders with the knowledge needed to take part in and to lead multicultural group interactions to effectively make a difference and make the world a better place. The most effective leaders possess a level of awareness, skill, knowledge, and passion to effectively engage others across difference to attain common purposes.

 

Intergroup Dialogue is an innovative practice in the classroom that promotes student engagement across cultural and social divides, fostering learning about social diversity and inequalities and cultivating an ethos of social responsibility. This approach to diversity education on college and university campuses responds to a growing need for educational practices that prepares students to live, work, and lead in a complex, diverse, and stratified society (Banks, 2002; Chesler, Lewis, and Crowfoot, 2005; Guarasci and Cornwell, 1997; Gurin, 1999; hooks, 1994; Hurtado, Milem, Clayton-Pedersen, and Allen, 1999; Sleeter and McLaren, 1995; Stephan and Stephan, 2001; Schoem, Frankel, Zúñiga, and Lewis, 1993; Tatum, 1997).

 

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One of the primary components of Intergroup Dialogue at UNF is a 3-credit course, LDR 3240, a leadership specific course open to all upper division students at UNF. The course also satisfies an elective requirement for students pursuing the Minor in Community Leadership. LDR 3240 challenges students to apply social theory frameworks about identity to their own position within society and the campus community, then extend those understandings to better conceptualize the world around them and take action to make the world a better place (Social Change Theory of Leadership Development). The course deconstructs concepts of individual and structural power and privilege, using students’ own narratives in conjunction with course readings and community based activities resulting in powerful and unique learning. This course is uniquely structured to foster student-directed learning among participants.

 

Beyond its engagement with students in the classroom, Intergroup Dialogue at UNF is envisioned to be a larger public dialogue process designed to involve diverse constituencies across the university community (students, staff, faculty and administrators) in addressing difficult and controversial topics that impact the culture and life of the university, and to do so through the lens of individuals and groups in an exploration of societal issues such as politics, racism, religion, and culture that are often flashpoints for polarization and social conflict, yet are harbingers for social change. Thus, IGD serves as a bridging mechanism across difference in efforts to advocate social justice, transform conflict, and advance social change in institutions and society. 

 

Intergroup Dialogue programming enjoys years of rigorous research and is modeled after psychologist’s Dr. Gordon Allport’s social contact theory along with Dr. David Bohme’s extensive seminal work on what he termed “dialogue”. According to Boehm, "A key difference between a dialogue and an ordinary discussion is that, within the latter people usually hold relatively fixed positions and argue in favor of their views as they try to convince others to change. At best this may produce agreement or compromise, but it does not give rise to anything creative."  Dialogue, by contrast is generative and elicits new ideas, creativity and openings to new understanding and possibility.

 

Opportunities for Faculty and Staff 

The Taylor Leadership Institute seeks faculty, administrators and staff who are interested in possible future service on the Intergroup Dialogue Committee. Activities for Intergroup Dialog Committee members may include co-teaching/co-facilitating dialogue courses; researching the effectiveness/learning outcomes of dialogue courses; organizing co-curricular programming initiatives for students; and organizing dialogue initiatives for faculty/staff.

 
Service on the Intergroup Dialogue Committee is a rewarding professional and personal development opportunity that enhances the UNF campus climate. This opportunity requires a sustained time commitment and support from your supervisor/department. Placement will be dependent upon current committee needs. To express interest in serving on the Intergroup Dialogue Committee, please email leadership@unf.edu with your name, department/title, and area(s) of interest on the committee (i.e. teaching, research, co-curricular programing, faculty/staff initiatives). You may also nominate a colleague who may be interested in serving on the committee. For more information, please contact Taylor Leadership Institute at (904) 620-5934.